Thursday, February 18, 2016

Korean Skin Care Translated

 Korean beauty is a hot trend right now and at the core of it is luminous, perfect skin. 
We all want it, but the Korean skincare regiment is loaded with a million products, lets be honest it can be absolutely bewildering. 
So many steps, and so many weird names where do you begin?
Yep, these are all the products I use. 
Here's a simple breakdown and translation of Korean skincare products using all my own skincare products to demonstrate:

Missha Green Tea Makeup Remover,
The Face Shop Rice Water Bright Cleansing Foam,
The Face Shop Rice Water Bright Cleansing Oil Light
  Cleansing is the most important part of any skincare routine. Korean skincare is no different, the much talked about "Double Cleanse" method is the heart of the Korean regiment. So you will see many different types of cleansers. The key is that you can really file them in to two different categories: oil cleanser and foam cleanser.
Oil Cleansers are exactly that, oil based facial cleanser. These products can come in liquid or cream form but the key is that they are made of oils that breakdown makeup and oil on your face. Yes, they are good for any skin type including those with oily skin, you just have to find the right one for you. I'll get more into this in another post.
Foam Cleansers are your traditional "soapy" cleansers. These are used after the oil cleanse to remove residual oil and broken down makeup from your face, the culprit of most of our breakouts. The biggest difference between Korean foam cleansers and American ones is that they focus on gentle cleaning and don't strip your face leaving you tight and dry.

 The Face Shop The Smim Fermentation Concentrate Toner
Missha Super Aqua Pore Correcting Toner
  Here in the U.S. most of us think of toners as astringents, harsh alcohol based products much like aftershave that is supposed to "close your pores". Having tried a few American drugstore toners I gave up on them pretty fast because they just seemed to dry my face out and then several hours later my skin would respond by producing a ton of oil and I looked like an oil slick hit my face.
  Korean toners are the exact opposite, the philosophy behind Korean toners is to return your skin to it's natural pH. Soap by nature is alkaline or "basic" and your skin is naturally slightly acidic applying a toner brings your skin back to it's natural state and makes it, well... happier! 
  Korean toners can range from a the traditional, very watery consistency we are used to here in the States, to a slightly thicker more serum like texture. They often contain other ingredients that will help treat your skin problems like large pores, discoloration or just some great anti aging properties. There are so many to chose from that are targeted for every skin type from sensitive to oily. 
  For me this is the one step I never skip, since I started using a toner I find I use much less moisturizer because my skin absorbs it way better.

From left to right back row: Boots No.7 Youthful Eye Serum, Missha Time Revolution First Treatment Essence, Cosrx BHA Blackhead Power Liquid, SK-II Facial Treatment EssenceFrom left to right front row: Missha Time Revolution Night Repair Science Activator Ampoule, The Face Shop Myeonghan Miindo Heaven Grade Ginseng Neck & Decollete Serum,Goodal Waterest First Essence, Shiseido Ultimate Eye Serum

  This is where things start to get overwhelming, serums, essences, ampoules, what the heck are these thing and what are they for? When I introduced a few friends to Korean skincare they looked terrified at all the bottles and tubes I had hanging around, "You use ALL of these?" they asked. 
  Well yes and no. 
Essences are the lightest of this group. They tend to have a very thin watery consistency and are patted into the skin to treat common issues like discoloration or aging. The idea behind them is that the water like consistency allows them to absorb right into your skin taking all the great skin perfecting ingredients right where it is needed. These are generally applied right after cleansing and toning your skin for maximum absorption and effect. 
Serums tend to be a little thicker and more viscous liquid which like essences target skin issues.
Ampoules are heavier than serums but basically do the same job as the other two.
  Serums, essences and ampoules are all targeted treatments for your skin issues, so let's just file them all under a big heading of "treatments". They all basically treat a skin issue you hate, wrinkles and fine lines, dullness, discoloration or blemishes such as blackheads or acne. The key to these are finding the right ones for you and layering them. As you can see I own a ton of "treatments" but I don't use every one of them daily. It's like creating a personalized cocktail for your skin to respond to what it needs that day. In the winter my skin gets dull and sallow so I layer on an ampoule that targets these issues over my anti-aging essence. In the summer I am very prone to blackheads so I layer on a serum that targets excess oil along with my anti aging essence. It's all up to you!

Coola Cucumber Moisturizer, Innisfree Green Tea Balancing Lotion,
The Face Shop Flebote White Crystal Emulsion, Innisfree Green Tea Balancing Cream
  Again another place where things can get a little tricky. Here in the States most girls have one bottle of moisturizer and if you are starting to stare 40 in the face like me, you may have invested in a night cream. If you haven't caught on yet Koreans are all about layering! So it is no surprise that they have multiple moisturizers and layer them on to get the most out of them.
Emulsions and lotions are very light liquid like moisturizers. The very thin texture allows them to soak right into your skin and hydrate quickly. These are layered on after your treatments and before a cream.
Creams are thicker in texture, they often come in little jars or "pots" and are scooped out. Most Korean woman have one cream for the day time which contains SPF and an even heavier one that is a night cream.
  The key to moisturizers is layering them, the light emulsions and lotions sink in to moisturize deeply and then you seal it in with a heavier cream to get deeply moisturized skin that is hydrated and soft.

WAY too many sheet masks to list!
Innisfree Wine Jelly Sleeping Pack, R:EP Bio Fresh Mask with Real Calming Herb, SNP Don't Worry Mango Sleeping Pack
  Now this is where things get fun! Koreans love masks, and there are a ton of them to chose from. Don't panic, these aren't everyday items, just for when you really need a pick me up. I tend to use them about 3 times a week on my days off to help recover my skin from 12 hour shifts and to relax.
Sheet masks are thin face shaped paper masks that are infused with serums that target just about any complaint you have about your skin. They can detox you, brighten you, and remove blackheads, but more importantly to me they are super relaxing and cheap! Most sheet masks cost about $2.00!
Wash Off Masks are a lot like the clay masks we all remember from high school sleepovers. Not all of them actually have clay in them but the premise is the same, goop onto your face, laugh at how silly you look and wash off to reveal soft, glowy skin
Sleeping Masks or Sleeping Packs look like super thick moisturizers and come in jars or single serving packs. These are applied to the face just like a moisturizer and left on all night, in the morning you wash them off to reveal super soft skin. These products basically lock in all of the great products you applied and holds moisture into you skin over night. Perfect for those of us who don't always have 20 minutes for a sheet or wash off mask.

  Okay, so that wasn't SO bad was it? I hope after you have read this you are thinking that maybe this whole Korean skincare regiment isn't so scary and overwhelming after all. 
  And if you are saying "But it takes so much time, effort and money... " remember this:

  It may take more time, effort and money to get beautiful skin and maintain it, but if you don't take care of it won't you be putting a ton of time, effort and money into "fixing" it with make up or worse? 
What would you rather do?

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Darned Socks

Do you know what this is?
It's a darning egg.

 Most people in this day and age have no idea what a darning egg is, let alone what it is used for. In the modern era of disposable items, especially clothing darning has become a lost art. At the turn of the century every household had at least one darning egg and darning was an essential domestic skill. 

  So what is darning? Darning was a method used commonly to repair holes or worn thin areas of socks and stockings before the time when socks and hose were disposable. For hundreds of years this task fell to servants, maids and it was even included in the duties of nurses at one time.
Image property of Getty Images

I found this beautiful picture online that illustrates how in the not so distant past darning socks was part of the normal duties of a nurse.

Darning at one time was considered a skill necessary to life. Often viewed as a womanly skill, it is worth noting that in the First and Second World war soldiers darned their own socks in down time. It was a part of life when socks and hose were expensive and not so easily replaced. 

A page on darning from a vintage manual

  The art of darning though is not entirely lost, there is a large movement towards learning this skill again. I have taken the time to sift through all the information new and old on the internet to learn the skill. 


  Two reasons, I like learning old skills, my hubby seems to think it has something to do with my paranoia about being prepared for when the zombie apocalypse hits. Joking aside I don't like just throwing stuff away, I happen to be a bit of a pack rat, but I think it comes from growing up with grandparents who grew up in the war time who taught me that if you could fix it, it was still good. 
   The second reason came out of necessity and thrift. I wear compression socks to work, 12 hour shifts on my feet have made it somewhat of a necessity. After much trial I found some great socks, a wool and bamboo blend that allows the feet to breath even when being crammed into hot leather shoes for hours on end. The down side to these miracle socks is they are expensive, at $25.00 a pair it's not like they are disposable, so when holes appear in the toes I am just a little reluctant to simply toss them out. So I learned to darn my socks.

My sock pile

  Back to the darning egg, it is inserted into the toe or heel of the sock to spread the fabric so you can see the area you are working on a give you a firm surface to work with. In the beginning I used a tennis ball but found the fuzzy surface often got sewn into my sock. Darning eggs are relatively cheap, about $10.00 for a decent wooden one, which is less than half the price of a new pair of socks and it will last forever. Darning is a relatively easy thing to learn and while it can be a touch time consuming if you have a pair of socks you absolutely can't live without or can't afford to replace it's a life saver. 
Let me walk you through it:

My socks tend to wear out in the toe are pretty fast. 
It's better to darn your socks before you have a huge hole, as it becomes trickier.
See the worn area? This is what needs to be fixed.

First order of business is to lay down a border of stitches around the weak area.
Make sure these stitches are put into the fabric of the sock that is still intact.

Next lay down verticle lines of thread over the weak area.
Anchor these in with stitches above your border stitches well into the "good" fabric of the sock.
Cover the weak area entirely and continue stitching into the "good" fabric beyond the weak area.

Now begin to stitch horizontal to the weak area. 
When you reach the vertical thread weave your thread through them.
You are basically creating a grid.
Continue until you cover the entire area and then into the "good" fabric into your boarder stitches.
Knot off your thread and you are done!

My socks are all ready to go.

  This works great for heavier socks like skiing and hiking socks, or heavier compression socks like mine. I like to use embroidery floss as it is heavier and easy to work with, I split the floss in half and use three strands when I darn. Using a different color floss is helpful as you can easily see your stitches as you work. Besides who cares if it doesn't match, no on is going to see your mended toes while your shoes are on.

  It may seem like a ridiculous amount of work but I actually enjoy darning. It's pretty mindless work that keeps my hands busy so it's perfect for doing in front of the TV or on a quiet morning in a sunbeam when I want to think about school while accomplishing something. It may be an old skill but it is a useful one, besides you never can be too prepared for the zombie apocalypse!

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Super Sunday

  While most people are in front of a television right now, I'm getting ready for work. Yep, I volunteered to work Superbowl Sunday in a trauma center, in the city the game is being held in, smart me. In reality, while I enjoy football, I am just not that married to any team and have yet to make Superbowl Sunday the third most important day of the year next to Christmas and Thanksgiving. Honestly, I don't mind working tonight, the die hard fans get to have their fun and I get a few bucks in my pocket.

  Also did I ever tell you nurses love to potluck? Oh yes and we are very, very good at it. The key to a good potluck is lots of different foods that can all be eaten on the go. It is not uncommon to see several crock pots bubbling with delicious contents in the unit on nights like these. My problem is that I found out about the potluck last night, when I worked and had no time to plan due to the need to sleep so I could get up and go to work all over again. No worries I have a fail proof solution that works every time, home made salsa.

  Who doesn't love a good drippy salsa with plenty of good crisp chips on the side? Easy to grab on the go and stays fresh the whole night. It's super easy, the key is just good, fresh ingredients.

  Cilantro is always around in my house, it's used in a lot of  Asian cooking and we live in the Southwest, Mexican makes it on to the menu once in awhile. 

Fresh jalapenos are essential.
If you don't like your salsa super hot remove the seeds and only add the pepper.
But it is a must, it adds a nice fresh flavor.

  This recipe isn't really a recipe at all, you just toss everything in the blender until it's the consistency you like, then chill it in the fridge for a few hours to let the flavors meld. I made this batch in the morning when I got home, put it in an old sauce jar and stuck it in the fridge.  Everyone will think you worked forever chopping and mixing, you don't have to let them know how easy it was. It'll be our little secret.

Blender Salsa "Recipe"

  • 1- 14 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1- 10 oz can original Rotel
  • 1/2 small onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 1/2-1 jalapeno,
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • pinch of sugar
  • salt to taste
  • small to medium size handful of cilantro, washed
  • juice of 1 lime (fresh! The stuff in a bottle is not the same)
 Toss all ingredients into a blender or food processor and whiz until desired texture. Add salt to taste and chill for 3 - 4 hours to let the flavors blend. Serve cold with chips or on your favorite dishes.

All packed up with some of my favorite chips!